Musicians, friends and family gather to honor student killed in Netherlands

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Thanks to musicians in Minneapolis, Sarah Papenheim’s mother was able to get the 21-year-old’s body back to Minnesota to hold a funeral service.

Many of those same musicians gathered Sunday night in her memory to play to the beat of Sarah’s drum.

Where words fail, music speaks and moves Donee Odegard to tears as she continues to suffer the loss of her 21-year-old daughter.

“I’ll never hear her drum again except for on videos I have,” said Odegard of her late daughter.  

After all, it was just Dec. 12 when Odegard got word from Dutch authorities that Papenheim, who was supposed to be home from the Netherlands only one week later, was gone.

“She was stabbed multiple times and beaten, the critical one to her heart, and the roommate, which is not her boyfriend, was the one who stabbed her, and he is in custody,” Odegard described.

Little else is yet known about the roommate suspected in her death.

“They’re trying to keep mum about it so there’s nothing that can hurt the case,” Odegard explained.

For now, Odegard is focusing on healing like the rest of the crowd gathered at the Cabooze Sunday.

“I keep thinking I’m going to look back and see Sarah there and playing and pounding that beat away and she’s just constantly in my mind when I play now,” said Adam Pryor, a friend.

A psychology student at Erasmus University, Papenheim decided when she wasn’t playing, she would help those who were hurting.

Papenheim’s brother Josh took his own life almost three years ago.

“Her mom having lost two children…that was the hardest part for me,” said Joyann Parker, another friend.

Now, Odegard is completely bereaved.

“These were my only two babies,” she said. “So, I don’t get grandbabies. I don’t get weddings and that’s hard.”  

Especially haunting are the red flags Odegard saw two days before her daughter’s slaying.

“She said he’s just acting really weird and, so, of course, me as a mom, I’m telling her, ‘Well, get out of there, don’t stay there,’” Odegard said.

It was a warning, Odegard says, that was partially brushed off.

“She had such a heart and I think she thought she could help him,” Odegard said.

The focus in Minneapolis Sunday night was Papenheim’s rhythm, spirit and courage.

“It was ugly how she passed and I don’t want that to be her memory only,” Odegard said.

Papenheim’s suspected killer remains in custody and it could take three months before Odegard learns what’s next in her daughter’s case.

Her biggest regret, she says, is not learning Dutch with her daughter, because she says that’s been a major barrier.